UC Market to Reach $27.3 Billion This Year

According to new research from International Data Corp. (IDC), the total market for worldwide unified communications and collaboration (UC&C), including equipment, products, and services, will reach approximately $27.3 billion in revenue in 2012. Additionally, IDC expects a 2010-2015 compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.3 percent for total unified communications (UC) and UC&C revenue worldwide.

However, the market is not without its challenges, according to Rich Costello, senior research analyst for enterprise communications infrastructure at IDC.

"Customers are still finding that UC can be complex to deploy in many cases, with expensive UC professional services required to do the proper integrations with back-end office systems, business applications, and processes," Costello says. "Another difficult area to understand is UC licensing. Many companies struggle with figuring out the total cost of licensing new UC technology in regard to servers, software, applications, end users, etc. At the same time, some of the softer benefits for companies and end users, such as efficiency and productivity, can be hard to quantify, and subsequently justify, for ROI purposes."

A business case for UC should include a mix of IT and business benefits, Costello says, and customers must identify tools and features that are most appropriate for their organizations, and where they should turn for those selected features and tools.

Some of the most powerful UC customer success stories are from business process flows within vertical markets like healthcare for telemedicine applications, education for distance learning solutions, financial services, and manufacturing, Costello says.

"I think a great example of a UC business case today is a collaborative application that ties together technologies such as telephony, Web conferencing for audio and data content, messaging and presence, video conferencing and mobility support—laptops, smartphones, tablets—to include remote and mobile workers who are beyond the scope of a company's local offices and who were typically left out of these sessions," Costello adds.

The assessment also scored vendor market capabilities and strategies for competing in the future. Costello says Cisco and Avaya are leaders based on their overall UC portfolios. Other front-runners include Microsoft, Alcatel-Lucent, Siemens, NEC, IBM, and ShoreTel. Additional vendors assessed in the report are Digium, Huawei, Interactive Intelligence, Aastra, and Mitel. The report is voice-centric, with more weight given to telephony, and also takes into account each vendor's whole UC portfolio.

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